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Monday, April 11, 2011.

AVC rad tech grads have 100 percent pass rate on national certification exam

Antelope Valley College’s first class of graduates from the Radiologic Technology Program have all passed a national certification exam required to be able to produce X-rays for physicians.

The students’ 100 percent pass rate on the exam by the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists compares to a national pass rate of 92 percent. In addition, the AVC graduates scored higher than the national averages in all exam categories with a 96 percentile ranking, according to Maria Kelly, AVC radiologic technology instructor.

AVC students achieved an average exam score of 92 percent.

The students’ success is due to a number of factors.

“I think we have an experienced and dedicated instructional staff who really were interested and took a lot of time to help students succeed,” said Kelly. “The students themselves were highly motivated and took a great deal of ownership for their own success.”

Kelly praised the three clinical affiliates that hosted AVC students: Antelope Valley Hospital, Palmdale Regional Medical Center and Ridgecrest Regional Hospital. The hospitals were generous with their staff time and equipment, she said.

“That generosity really engaged the students in a way in which they wouldn’t have been engaged if it were just a classroom experience,” said Kelly.

The program was started in 2009 after healthcare representatives expressed the need for a local radiologic technology program to help fill a statewide shortage. Local hospitals and a state grant helped launch the Associate in Science degree program.

The intensive program requires students to complete 99 units of course work in addition to several prerequisite courses needed for acceptance into the program. Many associate degree programs at the college can be completed with just 60 units.

“It equals out to four or five days a week in classroom time and time in clinic, and that doesn’t even include their study time,” said Kelly.

Students willing to undergo such an intensive regimen for two years have motivation beyond a local starting wage of approximately $25 per hour.

“I think the most motivating factor for a student wanting to finish this program is to help others,” Kelly said. “Students typically drawn to this career are ones that enjoy science and math. So it’s a unique combination of both wanting to take care of people and a great deal of technical acumen.”

Kelly said some of the graduates have already accepted positions at hospitals, while others are waiting to earn an additional state license before beginning work.

Technologists are eligible for advanced certification in computed tomography, mammography, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), cardiac-interventional radiology, vascular-interventional radiography and radiologist assistant.

It’s unfortunate that budget cuts resulting from the state’s fiscal crisis will prevent the college from beginning another cohort of students from starting the program in June, according to Kelly. Originally, the college planned to hire a second full-time instructor to run a second cohort of students.

Instead, AVC will continue with just a single cohort of students. The next class for prospective technicians won’t open until summer 2012.

“This is the epitome of a career education program. If they want a job, they’re going to have a job,” said Kelly.